A bird's eye view of Varenna.
16.06.2013 - 16.06.2013 34 °C
A very relaxed start to the day today - these slow starts are great. We are starting to really relax now - and this is the perfect place to do it.
We decided to visit the Castle Vezio today. This castle stands high on the hill/mountain behind Varenna - it's a long way up if you're walking there.
We took off at around 11am - having studied some rudimentary maps on just how to get up there. We are not called "Two Idiots Abroad" for nothing - we were the only two people that we could see who took this particular route. It was the longest route, and one undertaken in hot sun and high humidity. However - in our defence I would have to say that signs around Varenna are in short supply - especially those in English. We walked over to the train station, up steep alleyways, up steps, on roads, down steps, through the bush, through small villages - and finally! We made it up there - hot, sweaty, worn out - but the views on the way were brilliant!
There is a Falconry here in the grounds of the Castle, a practice that is centuries old. There are birds of prey here that are trained. There is also a huge owl called Artu - a Great Horned Owl, one of few in the world.
The origins of the Vezio Castle are unclear but it's believed that it was originally constructed in around the 4th Century AD. All that is left now is the outer shell and the tower in the middle, but it's really impressive none-the-less. It stands out high on the mountain and can be seen from many vantage points in Varenna.
We got talking to an English couple in the centre of the castle and ended up having lunch with them in the cafe there. This was really pleasant and a great way to while away the time until the Falconry show started. This took place in the gardens outside the Castle looking out over the most amazing view of Lake Como. It was a good show, except that it was completely in Italian, and the only word that was spoken that we understood was "Okay" - a couple of times. The trained falcon soared high in the air - off the side of the mountain, over the lake and then back again to the trainer. Very impressive, but it was a shame that we didn't understand anything that was said.
We said goodbye to Monica and Rod - wishing them a great holiday. Then we went back in to the Castle and climbed the steps up the tower to the top. What a view from here - just stunning! We got talking to some people who also climbed to the top of the tower. One guy from the US works for Cameron, another guy from the US works for BP, and then there was yours truly who works for Apache. A coming together of representatives from the Oil and Gas industry - on top of a castle in Northern Italy. Crazy. The guy from Cameron comes to Perth often and knows Apache well. Anyhow, each of us took photos for each other and once again we bade farewell to people we'll never see again.
It was now around 5pm and time for us to make our way down to ground level. This journey was much easier than the one up - it took us less than half the time. This was the way that we should have gone this morning, but when we arrived back in Varenna at the end of the track, there was absolutely no sign present - so we couldn't have known that it was the way up to the Castle. The town's best kept secret. I just don't get that, wouldn't you think that they'd make things as easy as possible for the poor unsuspecting tourist - especially if it's generating tourism revenue?
Anyhow, not to worry, no harm done. We got back to our apartment, and then I went for a little wander through the few shops that are here in the town. On the way home I picked up something for us to heat up for dinner - and another quiet night in for the Gibbos.